The motor and sensory function of the anorectum is well characterised in patients with solid stool incontinence. Fewer data are available in the case of liquid stool incontinence. Anorectal sensorimotor function was studied in 16 patients with liquid stool incontinence and severe urgency (10 with diarrhoea) unresponsive to conventional medical treatment, and in 16 healthy volunteers. The only significant difference found between incontinent patients and controls was a reduction in squeeze duration (p < 0.0001). Fourteen patients were selected to receive biofeedback treatment. Treatment was associated with a substantial improvement in continence in 12 patients and with a significant decrease in urgency (p < 0.05). Bowel frequency was not significantly influenced. Most patients showed a persistent improvement in anal motor function. Functional parameters were not predictive of outcome of treatment; the poor responders showed major psychological problems. In conclusion, an anal motor deficit is often present in disabling liquid stool incontinence. Biofeedback may improve anal continence in 75% of patients.
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